Personal ethics rule adopted by Pence, Billy Graham gains credence following flood of sex abuse revelations

by WorldTribune Staff, November 28, 2017

People who mocked Vice President Mike Pence for the professional boundaries he has set with women may be reconsidering their stances amid a wave of sexual abuse allegations against powerful men in politics, media and entertainment.

The vice president does not dine alone with a woman other than his wife or attend events where alcohol is served without his wife by his side.

Vice President Mike Pence and wife, Karen. / Getty Images

What is known in D.C. circles as the Pence rule “is actually one evangelist Billy Graham adopted seven decades ago,” Gary Varvel, the editorial cartoonist for The Indianapolis Star, wrote in an op-ed.

“Originally known as the Modesto Manifesto, it called for each man in the Graham organization to never be alone with a woman other than his wife. When Graham’s wife, Ruth, died in 2007, they had been married for 64 scandal-free years.”

Some Christians have questioned the rule’s wisdom. Christianity Today’s Katelyn Beaty, in a New York Times essay called “A Christian case against the Pence rule”, wrote that “Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ ”

Varvel, however, says Beaty “misses the point. Pence didn’t adopt his rule because he was afraid of becoming a sexual predator. It’s to guard his heart from sin.”

Beaty also wrote: “I know many Christians who keep some version of the (Pence) rule. These men have good motives, (but) it’s time for men in power to believe their female peers when they say that the rule hurts more than helps.”

Varvel wrote: “Hurts more than it helps? Tell that to the families and organizations ripped apart by sexual scandals because men in positions of leadership didn’t put in place and honor clear boundaries.”

Varvel continued: “Beaty’s primary complaint about the safeguard is that it can exclude women from important business-related conversations and connections. It’s a fair point. But this concern can be addressed by ensuring that any work-related meals or meetings outside the office involve at least three people.”

The Bible, Varvel notes, “has a lot to say about human sinfulness, and when it comes to sex, a lot of warnings are directed at men. Why?

“One reason is what authors Dennis and Barbara Rainey call the chemistry of emotional adultery. In their book Staying Close, they wrote, ‘People commit emotional adultery before they commit physical adultery. Emotional adultery is unfaithfulness of the heart. It starts when two people of the opposite sex begin talking with each other about intimate struggles, doubts or feelings. They start sharing their souls in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship.’ ”

Varvel mentioned a friend of his meeting a female acquaintance for lunch and “over time, friendship led to flattery, which led to flirtation, which led to infidelity and ended in divorce.

“My friend didn’t think he was in danger of committing adultery. He didn’t think he needed the Pence rule. He was wrong. And it was a mistake that carried an extraordinarily high price. It’s a price Mike Pence has wisely taken steps never to have to pay.”

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